‘A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of life.’
One of the items on my list of things I’m going to miss when I move to Dubai later this year is that I really haven’t made the most of having Europe on my doorstep. I went to Barcelona for a friend’s 40th birthday earlier this year – my first trip to Spain since 2003. After visiting Rome for the first time in 2008 I told myself I would go back every year – I haven’t been once. I hadn’t been to Paris since Christmas 2003 either, so the girls and I decided we’d have to ditch Raoul’s for a weekend and go to Paris.
We took the 8am train on Friday morning which arrived at 11.15. We checked in to the Aparthotel Adagio Paris Haussmann, freshened up and walked over to the Galeries Lafayette. Just in time for lunch. The food hall at the department store had been recommended to us as a good place to have lunch, but when we got there nothing really appealed to us. We found another restaurant in the store but that didn’t seem particularly appetising either so we ventured out. We ended up sitting in the back of a little cafe across the road from the Galeries Lafayette – the three of us ordered the ham and cheese omelette and were pleasantly surprised when they came. The bread on the table looked really good too – but I didn’t have any! After lunch we headed back to the shops – it was very crowded and we decided we’d be better off heading to Pierre Hermé on rue Cambon for dessert and coffee.
On our way there we passed the Pierre Marcolini store on rue Scribe and went in to work up our appetites! One of the girls picked up a tray of chocolates and some Cœurs Framboise (raspberry hearts) for us to try. We carried on walking, trying to find rue Cambon.
We eventually did get there, only to find that the Pierre Hermé boutique is just that: a boutique. You can’t sit down and have a coffee with your macaron or pastry so we decided to head to Ladurée on rue Royale. We had to queue for about 10 minutes and were eventually shown to a table upstairs. There was so much to choose from, I couldn’t decide. I told the girls to order whatever they wanted and I’d just have a bite of theirs rather than order my own pastry. They weren’t having any of it. In the end I ordered a millefeuille au chocolat and a café au lait.
I couldn’t finish my pastry (on the left in the photo) and the coffee was terrible. I’m not much of a coffee drinker but even I can tell the difference between good and bad coffee. The three pastries and three coffees cost us 44 Euros. And I thought London was expensive!
After dessert we went to a couple of Chanel stores and the Hermès store – but didn’t buy anything. I left the girls in another Chanel store as I was meeting a friend I hadn’t seen in 15 years.
Fred and I met in the summer of 1996 – we were both working at Family Kingdom, an amusement park in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (more about that later) and we somehow managed to stay in touch for all this time. I’d been to Paris a few times since then but we never managed to meet. As I was walking to our arranged meeting point on the rue St Honoré I wondered what on earth we’d talk about – 15 years is a long time! But when we met, it was fine. We walked back to the rue Cambon and ended up in a little bar called Le Relais Cambon. We ordered a couple of beers for old time’s sake and sat down. Then the weirdest thing happened – the songs playing on the music channel in the bar were from 1996 and brought back so many memories. Three hours – and three beers – later I had to rush off as it was already 8pm and I was having dinner with the girls. I don’t know where the time went…
After Fred and I parted ways, I started walking towards the hotel. Or so I thought. I usually have a good sense of direction, but I ended up walking in a huge circle and twenty minutes later ended up back at the bar we were at. Crap. I looked for a cab – which took ten minutes to find – there were none! The driver was quite chatty and I was pleasantly surprised to find I could still hold a decent conversation in French. Until he asked me to go dancing later that evening and to give him my email address. I told him I didn’t have email (clutching my BlackBerry) – he clearly didn’t believe me because he stopped talking after that. But he did get me back to the hotel in one piece.
We had dinner at Café de la Paix – what a beautiful restaurant! The girls ordered their starters – foie gras and lobster raviole – as I was still full from the pastry. Or maybe it was the beer. One of the girls had the Sole Meunière, and two of us shared the côte de bœuf. The portions were huge – three people could have eaten the beef – and we couldn’t finish it.
After dinner we decided to head back to the hotel – it had been a long day and we were exhausted. I’d forgotten all about the Pierre Marcolini chocolates that were bought earlier – the Cœurs Framboise was amazing – like a little drop of heaven. I went to sleep a happy woman.
The next morning we left the hotel and headed to Eric Kayser on boulevard Malesherbes for breakfast. Just a few doors down from the hotel was a florist called Shivani – with beautiful flowers on display outside…
We made it to Eric Kayser – I was unfeasibly excited about having a croissant. It would be my first real bread in almost two months. I ordered a croissant, scrambled eggs and a café au lait. The croissant was delicious. I ate the croissant before I’d thought about taking a photo – but then everyone knows what croissants look like, don’ they? The scrambled eggs were good, but not as good as they are at Raoul’s.
For some reason, the eggs came with a green leaf salad – and I thought the salad was better than the eggs. And the coffee was fantastic. I had to take a photo of the pastries on display:
We headed over to avenue Montaigne after breakfast, went to another Chanel store, the Dior store, and then it was time for lunch.
I’d booked a table at Chez Clément on the Champs Elysées. I was still quite full from breakfast so I ordered a seafood salad – which was very good. The girls ordered the roast chicken and the grilled seafood platter – both of which came with amazing mash…
We split up after lunch – the girls wanted to go to the Louis Vuitton store and I couldn’t face looking at another handbag. I walked down the Champs Elysées for a while, popped in to Sephora and then met up with them at Plaza Athénée, back on avenue Montaigne.
We had coffee in La Galerie des Gobelins.
When we sat down, the waitress brought over little stools for our handbags! It was by far the best (and most expensive) café au lait I’ve ever had. After lingering and people-watching for a while, we had to head back to the hotel, pick up our bags and catch the train back to London.I don’t know why I haven’t done this every few months – it’s so easy on the train! Ah well, perhaps when I’m back in London next year…